On December 7, 1941, a fleet of Japanese fighters and bombers flew into Hawaiian airspace, with the US naval base at Pearl Harbor as its primary target. The two-hour attack was a tragedy forever ingrained in American history. Today, this world-changing event and the war that followed are explored at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and the associated Pearl Harbor Historic Sites.
At this historic locale, visitors can get a sense of the emotions of that morning through exhibits and memorials dedicated to those lost and to the heroes who continued fighting for their nation. Recognizing Pearl Harbor’s vital importance in American history, the various entities in charge of the sites make sure that they’re accessible to all visitors, including those with handicaps.
Just about every exhibit at Pearl Harbor is accessible for people with disabilities. Here’s how each exhibit and memorial caters to handicapped visitors.
The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center
The heart of the Valor in the Pacific National Monument, the Visitor Center is the first thing guests come through. It’s located directly off the parking lot, which offers reserved parking within feet of the entrance for guests with disabilities.
Every part of the Visitor Center, including the galleries, movie theater, bookstore, and scattered outdoor exhibits offer wheelchair access. There are also benches throughout for guests who find it difficult to walk the distances between exhibits. Signs throughout the Visitor Center are available in braille, and the National Park Service offers a Braille-Ready Format version of the brochure that vision-impaired guests can print out prior to their visit.
Prior to visiting the USS Arizona Memorial, visitors see a short documentary about the attack. There is English-language captioning for the benefit of visitors with hearing impairments, and an induction loop for people using hearing aids.
The USS Arizona Memorial
After viewing the documentary, the next stop is the USS Arizona Memorial, dedicated to the 1,177 men whose lives were lost when the battleship exploded and sank. The US Navy shuttle boats that take visitors to the memorial are equipped with ramps for wheelchair access.
The memorial itself is completely accessible for people with disabilities.
The Battleship Missouri
A highlight for many visitors is being able to go aboard the Missouri. There is an elevator for wheelchairs, but many of the interior sections of the ship retain their original design, which includes tight corners and steep ladders.
People with disabilities can explore the main deck of the Missouri via a ramp. Guests using wheelchairs can also access Slider’s Grill for a bite to eat and the Victory Store to do some souvenir shopping.
For people with hearing impairments, a transcript of the AcoustiGuide audio tour is available at no charge.
Pacific Aviation Museum
The Pacific Aviation Museum is accessible for handicapped guests. All hangars and exhibits along with the shop and restaurant can accommodate wheelchairs.
USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park
Like the Battleship Missouri, the Bowfin hasn’t been modified from its original layout as a working submarine. Visitors with limited mobility may have difficulties maneuvering inside the submarine but can visit the attached museum and park, both of which are completely accessible for people with disabilities.
Restrooms Around Pearl Harbor
Accessible restrooms can be found at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, the Battleship Missouri, and the Pacific Aviation Museum. There are no restrooms aboard the USS Arizona Memorial.